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Damascus Sermon 4- Introduction to the translation of the Original Arabic ‘Damascus Sermon’ by Bediüzzaman said Nursi( 1873- 1960)


In His Name, be He glorified!
And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.
Peace be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings for ever!

 

My Dear, Loyal Brothers!

[With a presentiment of the future, the Old Said perceived the truths expressed in this Arabic sermon, which, on the insistence of the Damascus religious authorities, he delivered forty years ago in the Umayyad Mosque to a congregation of close on ten thousand, which included a hundred religious scholars; he gave news of those truths with complete certainty as though they were going to be realized shortly. However, the two World Wars and twentyfive years of absolute despotism delayed their realization; it is now that the signs of this, which were predicted then, are beginning to be seen in the world of Islam. Therefore, if you consider it appropriate, you may publish the translation of this most important and instructive piece, not as an old, outdated sermon, but as fresh and correct instruction on social and Islamic questions addressing directly, in 1371 instead of 1327, the congregation of three hundred and seventy (now more than a million) million in the mosque of the Islamic world, rather than in the Umayyad Mosque.]

It is fitting here to write the most important answer to a most important question. For the Old Said spoke prophetically in that lesson of forty years ago as though he was seeing the wondrous teachings of the Risale-i Nur and its effects. It is for this reason that I am writing that question and answer here. It is like this:

Many have asked both me and the Risale-i Nur students: “Why is it that the Risale-i Nur is not defeated in the face of so much opposition and so many obdurate philosophers and people of misguidance? By preventing to an extent the dissemination of numerous valuable and true books on belief and Islam, and by means of their worldly pleasures and vices, they have deprived many youths and others of the truths of belief. But their most violent attacks, vicious treatment, lies and propaganda have been directed at the Risale-i Nur, to destroy it and to scare people away from it and to give it up. Despite this, the Risale-i Nur has spread in a way never seen in any other work, six hundred thousand copies of its treatises being written out by hand with unflagging zeal and published secretly. How is it that it causes itself to be read with such enthusiasm, both within the country and abroad? What is the reason for it? In reply to the many questions of this sort, we say:

Being a true commentrary on the All-Wise Qur’an through the mystery of its miraculousness, the Risale-i Nur demonstrates that in misguidance is a sort of Hell in this world, while in belief is a sort of Paradise. It points out the grievous pains in sins, bad deeds, and forbidden pleasures, and proves that in good deeds and virtues and the truths of the Shari‘a are to be found pleasures like the pleasures of Paradise. In this way it saves the sensible among those who have fallen into vice and misguidance. For at this time there two awesome conditions:

T h e F i r s t : Since man’s emotions, which are blind to the consequences of things and prefer an ounce of present pleasure to tons of future joys, have prevailed over his mind and reason, the only way to save the dis-sipated from their vice is to show them the pain present in their pleasure and to defeat their emotions. Although they are aware of the diamond-like bounties and pleas-ures of the hereafter, as the verse, They deem lovable the life of this world(1) indicates, while being believers, the people of misguidance choose worldly pleasures, which are like pieces of glass soon to be shattered. The only way of saving them from this love of the world and from the danger of succumbing to it is by showing them the hell-like torments and pains they suffer even in this world. This is the way the Risale-i Nur takes. For at this time, due to the obduracy arising from absolute unbelief  and the intoxication caused by the vice and misguidance arising from science, perhaps only one in ten or even twenty can be induced to give up his evil ways by proving the existence of Hell and its torments, after having told him of Almighty God. Having heard this, such people are likely to say: “God is Forgiving and Compassionate, and Hell is a long way off,” and continue in their dissipation. Their hearts and spirits are overcome by their emotions.

Thus, by showing through most of its comparisons the grievous and terrible results in this world of disbelief and misguidance, the Risale-i Nur makes even the most stubborn and arrogant people feel disgust at those inauspicious, illicit pleasures, leading them to repent. The short comparisons in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Words, and the long one in the Third StoppingPlace in the Thirty-Second Word induce a person feel repugnance at the vice and misguidance of the way he has taken, and cause him to accept what they teach. As an example, I shall recount briefly the situations I beheld on a journey of the imagination, which were in fact reality. Those wishing for a more detailed account may look at the end of Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybi (The Ratifying Stamp of the Unseen Collection).

When on that journey of the imagination I looked at the animal kingdom through the eyes of materialist philosophy and of the people of misguidance and heedlessness, the innumerable needs of animals and their terrrible hunger together with their weakness and impotence appeared to me as most piteous and grievous. I cried out. Then I saw through the telescope of Qur’anic wisdom and belief that the Divine Name of All-Merciful had risen in the sign of Provider like a shining sun; it gilded with the light of its mercy that hungry, wretched animal world.

Then I saw within the animal world another grievous world which was swathed in darkness and would make anyone feel pity in which young were struggling in their need and powerlessness. I was sorry I had looked through the eyes of the people of misguidance. Suddenly, belief gave me other spectacles and I saw the Name of AllCompassionate rise in the sign of clemency; it transformed and lit up that pitiful world in joyous and beautiful fashion, changing my tears of complaint and sorrow into tears of joy and thanks.

Then the world of humanity appeared to me as though on a cinema screen. I looked through the telescope of the people of misguidance and saw that world to be so dark and terrifying that I cried out from the depths of my heart. “Alas!” I cried. For they had desires and hopes that stretched to eternity, thoughts and imaginings that embraced the universe, the earnest desire for everlasting happiness and Paradise, an innate capacity and powers on which no limit had been placed and which were free, yet despite their innumerable needs and their weakness and impotence they were exposed to the attacks of innumerable enemies and the blows of innumerable calamities. Under the perpetual threat of death, they lived out their brief and tumultuous lives in wretched circumstances. Ever looking to the grave, which for the misguided is the door to everlasting darkness, they suffered the continuous blows of death and separation, the most painful state for the heart and conscience I saw that singly and in groups they were being thrown into that black well.

On seeing the world of humanity in this darkness I was about to cry out with my heart, spirit, and mind, and all my subtle inner faculties, indeed all the particles of my being, when the light and power of belief proceeding from the Qur’an smashed those spectacles of misguidance, giving me insight. I saw the Divine Name of AllJust rising like the sun in the sign of AllWise, the Name of AllMerciful rising in the sign of Munificent, the Name of AllCompassionate rising in the sign of, that is, in the meaning of, AllForgiving, the Name of Resurrector rising in the sign of Inheritor, the Name of Giver of Life rising in the sign of Bountiful, and the Name of Sustainer rising in the sign of Owner. They lit up the entire world of humanity and all the worlds within it. They dispelled those helllike states, opened up windows onto the luminous worlds of the hereafter, and scattered lights over the world of humanity. I declared: “Praise and thanks be to God to the number of particles in existence!” I understood with complete certainty that in belief is a sort of paradise in this world too and in misguidance, a sort of hell.

Then the world of the earth appeared. On that journey of the imagination, the dark, hypothetical rules of the philosophy which does not obey religion depicted a ghastly world. Voyaging through space on the ship of the aged earth which travels seventy times faster than a cannonball a distance of twentyfive thousand years in one year, ever disposed to break up, its interior in a state of upheaval the situation of wretched human kind appeared to me in a desolate darkness. My eyes darkened

I flung the spectacles of philosophy to the ground, smashing them. Then I looked with an eye illuminated with the wisdom of the Qur’an and belief, and I saw the Names of Creator of the Heavens and Earth, AllPowerful, AllKnowing, Sustainer, Allah, Sustainer of the Heavens and Earth, Subjugator of the Sun and Moon had risen like suns in the signs of mercy, tremendousness, and dominicality. They lit up that dark, desolate, and terrifying world so that the globe appeared to my eye of belief as a most wellordered, subjugated, pleasant, and safe ship, or aeroplane or train. It contained everyone’s provisions, and had been decked out for trade and enjoyment and to carry beings with spirits through the dominical realms around the sun. I exclaimed: “All praise be to God to the number of particles of the earth for the bounty of belief.”

This has been proved with many comparisons in the Risale-i Nur, that those who follow vice and misguidance suffer a hellish torment in this world too, while through the manifestations of belief, the believers and righteous may taste through the stomachs of Islam and humanity the pleasures of Paradise. They may benefit according to the degree of their belief. But in these stormy times, currents which numb the senses and scatter man’s attention on peripheral matters, plunging him into them, have deadened his senses and bewildered him. As a result of this the people of misguidance are temporarily unable to feel their torment, while the people of guidance are overwhelmed by heedlessness and cannot truly appreciate its pleasures.

The Second Awesome Condition This Age: In former times, compared with the present there was very little absolute disbelief, or misguidance arising from science, or the disbelief arising from perverse obstinacy. The instruction of the Islamic scholars of those times and their arguments were therefore sufficient, quickly dispelling any unbelief arising from doubts. Belief in God was general, and they could persuade most people give up their misguidance and wrongdoing through teaching them about God and reminding them of Hellfire. But now there are a hundred absolute disbelievers in one small town instead of perhaps one in a whole country. Those who lose their way due to science and learning and obstinately oppose the truths of belief have increased a hundredfold in relation to former times. With pride like that of the Pharaoh and their terrible misguidance these obdurate deniers oppose the truths of belief. A sacred truth is therefore much needed that will completely destroy the bases of their disbelief in this world, like an atom bomb, and will halt their aggression and bring some of them to belief.

All praise be to Almighty God that with its many comparisons, as the perfect remedy for the wounds of this time, the Risale-i Nur a miracle of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition proceeding from its effulgence has routed even the most worst of those obdurate deniers with the diamond sword of the Qur’an. Its proofs and arguments to the number of the atoms of the universe demonstrating Divine Unity and the truths of belief show that in twentyfive years it has not been defeated in the face of the severest attacks, but has itself prevailed and been victorious. Yes, with its comparisons of belief and unbelief, and guidance and misguidance, the Risale-i Nur proves those truths selfevidently.

If note is taken for example of the proofs and flashes of the Second Station of the TwentySecond Word, the First StoppingPlace of the ThirtySecond Word, the ‘Windows’ of the ThirtyThird Letter, and the eleven proofs of Asayı Musa (The Staff of Moses), it will be understood that it is the truths of the Qur’an manifested in the Risale-i Nur that will smash and destroy absolute disbelief and perverse misguidance at this time.

In the same way that the parts of the Risale-i Nur solving the greatest mysteries of religion and the riddles of the world’s creation have been collected together in Tılsımlar Mecmuası (The ‘Mysteries’ Collection), the pieces which describe the hell in this world of the people of misguidance and the paradiselike pleasures of the people of guidance and show that belief is like a seed of Paradise while unbelief is a seed of the Zakkumtree of Hell, will be put together in a small collection, God willing, and published.

The next parts of ‘Damascus Sermon‘ will continue to come.

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